June 21, 2011

A new study has found that the prevalence and severity of childhood food allergies in the United States were more than previously reported and that they often resulted in severe symptoms and in allergies to multiple foods. 

Based  on a survey of adults involving 38,480 children from June, 2009 to February, 2010, the new study found that 8% of the children had a food allergy (previous studies suggested that between 1% and 8% of children in the U.S. had a food allergy — the CDC reported in 2007 an increase of 18% in the prevalence of food allergies in children over the past decade, with about 4% of children in the U.S. having a food allergy). By extrapolation, there are nearly six million children in the U.S. who have food allergies to one or more foods. Of the children younger than 2 years of age, 6.3% had food allergies compared to 8.6% for children 14 and older (the likelihood of severe food allergies increased with the age of the children — twice as many children aged 14 to 17 had severe food allergies as compared to children up to age 2). 

Of those children who were reported to have a food allergy, nearly 39% had severe reactions and more than 30% had multiple food allergies. The most common food allergy was to peanuts (just over 25%). Milk allergies represented just over 21% of the food allergens and shellfish allergies were prevalent in just over 17% of children with food allergies.

Of the 38,480 children included in the survey, 56.4% were white, 21.6% were Hispanic, 14.1% were black, and 4.8% were Asian. Blacks and Asians had an increased likelihood of food allergies but had a lower likelihood of having been formally diagnosed with a food allergy. Older children had a greater likelihood of food allergies than for children younger than 2. Children residing in southern states have a higher likelihood of food allergies. Children in households earning less than $50,000 were less likely to have food allergies. Severe allergies were more likely in boys, in children who had multiple food allergies, in older children, and in children in higher income households.

If you or your child’s medical condition was misdiagnosed, your health care provider may have been negligent and you may have a claim for medical malpractice. Our website can connect you to medical malpractice attorneys in your local area who may be able to assist you with your claim. Our toll free telephone number is 800-295-3959.